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How To Select Your Rubber And Tyre Machinery? Insightful Advices From 6 CEO’s

“How To Select Your Rubber And Tyre Machinery?”

This subject question could have volumes written in theory. But today we focus on what the CEO’s advise, distilled down from their experience, expertise, and wisdom.

Your equipment supplier ecosystem includes New Manufacturers, Rebuilders, OEM Suppliers, Pre-Owned Machinery Suppliers and Agent representatives.

So I asked all the CEO’s the same question to give you a true perspective.

“What would you advice on machinery selection to buyers and users of rubber and tire equipment?”

The different views they offered here are not only insightful, they are pertinent, prudent and practical.

Read on in our Special Supplement here….

This special supplement is one of our efforts to give you useful knowledge on-the-go in a concise and timely manner. This topic based micro-editions is in addition to our other initiatives like ‘Know Your Supplier’ that provides you information on the machinery supplier ecosystem.

Watch Video Version of this supplement on YouTube or Download Full PDF Here.

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If you are an equipment supplier and would like your organization to be promoted on Rubber Machinery World, please see the opportunities on Partner Me or Contact Me at for your customized offering.


Editor’s Pick: Mixing And Mix Design – Advances In Mixing Technology (Part 2)

Continuing with Part 1 of this article, by Dr.S.N.Chakravarty, President – Elastomer Technology Development Society and Ex-Chairman, Indian Rubber Institute (IRI).

Now, let us look  more deeply into PRINCIPLES OF MIXING.


Vulcanizable polymers cannot be used without compounding. Various additives like curative system, protective system, reinforcing agents, cheapeners and other process aids have to be mixed to the polymer or polymer blend “to make a coherent homogenous mass of all these ingredients, which will process satisfactory and on Vulcanisation will give the product capable of giving the desired performance, all with the minimum  expenditure of machine time and energy.”

Due to the partly elastic nature and very high viscosity of rubber, power intensive sturdy machinery like mixing mills or internal mixers is necessary to achieve the mixing of additives into the polymer. The ingredients are in form of liquids, solid powders or solid agglomerates.

Phases during mixing of rubber

Phases during mixing of rubber

The mixing of solid ingredients into the solid polymer occurs in phases. During subdivision large lumps or agglomerates are broken down into smaller aggregates suitable for incorporation into the rubber.

For instance carbon black pellets which have dimension of the order of 250-2000 µm get broken down into aggregates with dimensions of the order of 100 µm. Then these aggregates are absorbed or incorporated into the rubber to form a coherent mass.

During mixing, shearing of the rubber generates shearing stress in rubber mass which imposes in turn shear stress on these aggregates and breaks these into their ultimate fine size which in case of carbon blacks is of the order of about 1µm. in size. This phase is also known as intensive mixing or homogenization in micromolecular level.

Distribution or homogenization in micromolecular level or extensive mixing is “the moving of the agglomerates / particles from one point to another, without changing the shape of the particle to increase the randomness of the mixture”. The ingredients incorporation is a very slow process.

Another method of reducing incorporation time is to use powdered rubbers. In a simple ribbon blender the powdered rubbers can be mixed with the other compounding  ingredients.

The powdery mass is compacted in another machine and then fed to the internal mixer. Because of the large surface area of the powdered rubbers, the incorporation into polymer is very fast and only a very short mixing cycle in the internal mixer is adequate to achieve the mixing.

Even after all ingredient is incorporated, dispersion/distribution of the ingredient is not complete. Good distribution is comparatively easy to achieve by paying proper attention to  cutting and folding operations  on a mixing mill or by just prolonging the mixing cycle in an internal mixer.

Rebuild Farrel F270 Mixer From Pelmar Engineering Ltd

Rebuild Farrel F270 Mixer From Pelmar Engineering Ltd

Dispersion however is dependent on the shear stresses generated within the polymer and hence good dispersion may not be achieved by prolonged mixing . Careful consideration is necessary not only as regards the time of the mixing cycle but also for the order of addition of ingredients to the rubber.

Viscosity break down occurs during mixing and is essential for smooth processing of the stock.

Degree of dispersion of carbon black has profound influence on the physical properties of the vulcanisate. Undispersed carbon black (normally taken as carbon black agglomerates bigger in size than 9µm) act as gritty particles. Under tension, cracks develop at these spots.

Failure properties like tensile strength, tear strength and consequently abrasion resistance come down as the degree of dispersion comes down.


To achieve dispersion of the carbon black, the polymer mass itself has to exert considerable shear stress on the carbon black agglomerate incorporated inside the polymer. This is achieved by passing the polymer carbon black batch through a narrow nip either between two rolls of a mixing mill moving at frictional speed or that in between rotor tip and chamber wall of an internal mixer.

In internal mixer two additional conditions have to be fulfilled. Chamber loading must correct & Ram pressures must be adequate to hold the stock within the chamber.


  • Narrow Clearance between Rotor
  • Tip and Chamber wall (High Rate of Shear)
  • Correct Volume Loading
  • Adequate Ram Pressure
  • High Viscosity of Polymer
  • Low Polymer Temperature
  • (High Viscosity and More Prominent Elastic Characteristics of Raw polymer)
Kobelco Make Mixers

Kobelco Make Mixers

For higher shear stress generation inside the polymer mass, polymer should have high viscosity. The temperature should be low so that thermoplasticity does not lead to lowering of polymer viscosity.

Any sweeping of carbon black at the end of mixing cycle is to be avoided in regular production.

The Master Batch (MB) is aged. Cooled MB goes to the cracker. Mechanical working of the cooled MB improves the degree of dispersion further. Then the MB is worked on Cracker mill, warming mills, feed mill and then to the extruder.

It is possible to follow the mixing process in the internal mixer with the help of power / time curve (or amperage of drive motor / time curve). When carbon black is added the torque does not rise immediately. The carbon black added as palletised black is about 30% higher than the total chamber volume. As the carbon black is slowly absorbed into the rubber the torque increases. As more and more carbon black gets absorbed, stock volume becomes lower and the power curve comes down.

Based on the power curve data on experimental batches, criteria like constant time or constant temperature are selected as dumping criteria. With constant time or constant temperature as the dump criteria, there will be variation in quality of the compound produced.

The better criterion is the constant energy criterion. This is very versatile, and will automatically take care of any minor variation in operating conditions as well as of even major ones to give a consistent quality output. It can also be kept constant even when rotor rpm is changed or ram pressure is increased, while the time or temperature criteria will have to be re-established after a series of experiments.


In compounds, sometimes polymer blends are used in order to cover deficiencies of one polymer by partial use of the other. However a homogenous dispersion of two different polymers on molecular scale is not possible.

Most important condition for achieving good blending of polymers is that both polymers should have as near viscosities as possible during blending.

Rubber Mixing Room

HF Mixing Room Image


In order to mix uniform, high quality, low-cost rubber in an environmentally clean area, the mixing systems in future must provide the following:-

  • Accurate, automatic, clean and flexible weighing of all materials used in the mixed compound.
  • Mixers that use :
    • Either tangential or intermeshing 4-wing variable speed rotors depending on the product.
    • Variable ram pressure and position during the mix cycle.
  • Mix time based on feedback from instrumentation sensors that monitor and control in “Real Time “ temperature, viscosity, dispersion and energy.
  • Greatly improved dust stops, rotor and chamber metal surfacing as well as mechanical and electrical components that will increase up-time and reduce overall maintenance cost.
  • The down-stream equipment will be similar to what is used today but automation will either eliminate or minimise a need for the operator at the mill, former or batch-off unit.
  • Online automatic sampling and testing of each individual batch will be performed after the mill or forming machine and this data will be used to make minor adjustments to the formula of the remaining batches as well as further processing down-stream.
  • Controls will be more sophisticated with feedback loops to make sure each batch and formula will be compounded properly. They will automatically record and control the conditions of the mixer to provide a more consistent uniform mix.


Power Curve Of Typical Banbury Mix

Power Curve Of Typical Banbury Mix


Loading + wetting stage – Formation of a Single Mass of filler and rubber – penetration  of Polymer in to filler voids – As the C-black is slowly absorbed into the rubber the torque increases. When the volume of rubber + C-black becomes equal to the chamber Vol., the raw comes to the lowest  position, the raw hydraulic pressure on the stock disappears. The power shows first peak. More and more C-black gets absorbed, Stock volume becomes lower & the power curve comes down.


Most of the real dispersion work takes place. The filler agglomerates are gradually distributed through the polymer and then  broken down tto their  ultimate size. The power curve also starts rising till the whole stock with oil & C-black has consolidated. At this juncture the second power peak occur .


Plasticization takes place.

The power curve decrease beyond the second power peak has been found to obey first-order kinetic law,

Log [(Po – Pt)/(Pt  –  Px)] = Kt

The mixing should continue till dispersion half time. (i.e. (Po-Pt)/(Pt-Px) = 0.5)  after 2nd power Peak.

TOTAL MIXING TIME = Black incorporation time + Dispersion half-time.

To handle variety of rubber compounds on the same mill required that mill to have.

  • Independent speed control on both rolls
  • Widely variable speed on both rolls
  • Independent temperature control on speed, friction ratio and temp. to be adapted to each individual .
  • Hydraulically operated nip adjustment
Two-Roll Mixing Mill

Two-Roll Mixing Mill



  1. Increased rotor speed
  2. Higher Ram Pressure
  3. Improved Rotor Design
  4. Improved Cooling System
  5. Continuous Mixing Process






i)     2 Speed Rotor (20 – 40 RPM) Variable (0 – 90 RPM)
ii)    Low Power (e.g. 11- max. 800 HP) High Power (e.g 11 Banbury Max 1500 (HP)
iii)   Low Pressure Ram (40 Bar) High Pressure Ram (80 Bar)
iv)   Tap water cooling Refrigerated water cooling Tempered water cooling
v)    Spray side cooling Cored (channel) Sides cooling Drilled sides  cooling
vi)   Spring Drop Door Drop Door
vii)  Spring Tension Seals Hydraulic Seals
viii) Chrome internal Surface Alloy internal surface
ix)   2- Wing Rotor 4 – Wing Rotor
x)   Mix unit till it sounds Right Mix by Power Consumption Computerized control of all variables



Rotor Speed(r.p.m) Mix Time( % ) Out Put rating( % )
30 133 80
40 100 100
60 64 140
80 48 160


At high pressures the average HP required was found to be inversely proportional to the rotor speed to the 0.97 power.

P1 = P2*(V1/V2)   where, P = Horse Power , V = Rotor Velocity


INCREASED RAM PRESSURE (Size No. 11 Banbury, 40 rpm)

Type Pressure Ram Pressure (Psi) Effective Pressure (Psi) Mix Time (%) Output Rating
Normal 90 25 100 100
Intermediate 135 35 84 120
High 280 70 70 143



Tempered water / controlled water temperatures are selected relative to the coefficient of friction of the Sp. Polymer being mixed. Lowest possible Temp. at which the polymer gripping the metal surface enabling shear and turbulent flow of the polymer to take place rather than slippage.

Polymer Tempered Water Temp. (max.) (°C)
Highly Cryst. EPDM 60 – 70
Natural Rubber 40 – 60
SBR 50 – 60
Low Cryst. EPDM 30 – 35
Hypalon (CSPE) 30 – 35
NBR (Nitrile) 20 – 25
IIR (Butyl ) 20
CR (Choloroprene) 15


  1. Total Power consumption is reduced because More time is spent mixing rather than flopping around.
  2. Greater fill factor is obtained because the mix is hugging the metal during the whole time it is in the mixer.
  3. Batch to Batch consistency is improved  because the temperature of the metal fluctuates  in a very narrow range and each batch is exposed to essentially the same metal conditions  at each step of the loading and mixing cycle.
  4. Improved dispersion due to absence of unbroken down polymer lumps.

Automated Mixing Line


Dr. Chakravarty can be reached on

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Editor’s Pick: Mixing And Mix Design – Advances In Mixing Technology (Part 1)

An earlier post on injection moulding of Dr.S.N.Chakravarty(President – Elastomer Technology Development Society and Ex-Chairman, Indian Rubber Institute (IRI)), on this site was refreshing to many of the readers who wrote back to me because rubber machinery and rubber processing go hand in hand. One cannot be alienated from the other nor viewed in isolation.

On this note, here is another informative paper sent to me by Dr. Chakravarty – MIXING AND MIX DESIGN: ADVANCES IN MIXING TECHNOLOGY.

Here is Part 1 of this two-part series.


Rubber compounding is one of, if not the most difficult and complex subjects to master in the field of Rubber Technology. Compounding is not really a science. It is art, part science. In compounding one must cope with literally hundreds of variables in material and machine. There is no simple mathematical formulation to help the compounder. That is why compounding is so difficult a task


  1. to secure properties in the finished product to satisfy service.
  2. to attain processing characteristics for efficient utilisation of available equipment.
  3. to achieve the desirable properties and processibility at the lowest possible cost.


  1. The properties and functions of hundreds of elastomers and rubber chemicals are to be understood.
  2. Knowledge of the equipment used for mixing, extrusion, calendaring, moulding and vulcanisation are required.


Today, a technical vulcanisate is made up of the following constituents :

  1. Base polymer or blend of polymers
  2. Crosslinking agents
  3. Accelerators
  4. Accelerator modifiers (Activators / retarders )
  5. Antidegradents
  6. Reinforcing fillers
  7. Processing aids
  8. Diluents
  9. Colouring materials
  10. Special Additives


In addition to the above, reclaimed rubber or vulcanised rubber crumb may be included and according to the manner of their use, function under groups 1, 7 or 8.



Rubbers are viscoelastic materials of low rigidity exhibiting large strain elasticity. The deformation imposed on rubber components are far larger than those encountered for most other materials, and the stress-strain relationships are correspondingly more complex.

The ability of rubber to store elastic energy depends largely on the type of polymer used. In general, polymers having relatively high glass transition temperatures exhibit the highest energy losses during deformation. These energy losses are exploited in components  intended to damp motion, but generally the higher the damping obtained the more sensitive are the modules and damping to frequency and temperature.

The tensile strength of a rubber is low compared with other materials but the energy storage capacity at break can be greater than that of an equivalent mass of steel. Failure of rubber components rarely occurs by simple tensile failure: tearing or fatigue crack growth is more likely.

A major factor determining the strength of rubber is an ability to crystallise under the influence of an applied strain. Rubbers possessing this ability (e.g., NR and CR) are intrinsically strong while those that do not crystallise rely on the incorporation of reinforcing fillers to impart adequate strength.

A limitation on the use of rubbers in some applications is the effect of certain fluids. The extent of swelling or property change in a given fluid is critically dependent on both the rubber and the fluid. Selection of a rubber for a given application should take into account its resistance to any fluid it is likely to be in contact with in service. A similar consideration applies to the effects of temperature and the climate in which a product is to be used.

Relative ratings of different polymer vulcanisates are as shown below:


Elastomer Base      Temp Range (°C)
CR                         40 – 100
IIR                         40 – 120
NBR                       40 – 100
NR                         55 – 90
SBR                        50 – 100
CSM                        20 – 120
EPDM                      50 – 150
FPM                        20 – 200
VMQ                       60 – 200

Next on the list would be the vulcanising agent. This would be between sulphur, sulphur donors, metallic oxides, urethane crosslinkers, or resin cures. This decision is somewhat easier since it depends largely on the type of polymer.

The third to choose is for the most appropriate filler and the amount. This of course does not occur with purge gum compounds. The colour desired, the hardness if specified, the service environment will be some of the factors in that decision.

SAF                 0.80 SAF                 1.6
ISAF               0.90 ISAF                1.8
HAF                1.00 HAF                 2.0
FEF                 1.05 FEF                  2.1
GPF                 1.10 GPF                  2.2
SRF                 1.20 SRF                   2.4
  • For every 1 point rise in hardness add 2.0 phr of carbon black (HAF)
  • For every 2.0 phr of process oil added, hardness drops by 1 point.
  • For every 2.0 phr of oil added, hardness drops by 1 point.

Then the selection of accelerators and activators are made. Their choice depends primarily on the vulcanising agents chosen, next the polymer and then curing and service conditions.

Plasticisers and/or softeners have to be compatible with the elastomer, effective with the type of filler, and should not cause problems of their own.

The last fundamental question to be resolved is the age resistor package. Two conditions have to be satisfied here, providing suitable protection against the environment and not choosing agents inimical to the softeners or curative system.

Antioxidant Class  Natural ageing  Heat ageing   Flexing  Resistance to Staining Copper & manganese
Acetone/Diphenylamine  condensates 2-4 4-6 1-5 1-2 2
Acetone/Aniline condensates 2-4 4 1-2 1-2 1
Phenyl-betanapthyl amines 4 4 4 1 2
Para-Phenylene diamines 4 4 4-6 1 4-5
Substituted Phonols 2-3 1-3 1-2 5-6 1

Obviously for some compounds further choices have to be made: fire retardance, electrical conductance, particular colour etc.


Hardness : Hardness, as measured by an indentation test is a semi empirical measure of modulus .

Tensile Strength : Tensile strength is one of the most widely determined properties of rubber. Tensile strength varies widely with rubber type and is sensitive to compounding, passing through a maximum as cross-link density and hardness are raised. Elongation at break usually decreases with increasing stiffness.

Tear resistance : Tear is a localised strength failure in a material whose bulk strain is below its breaking point. Resistance can be improved by reinforcing fillers.

Fatigue resistance : Like other materials rubber can undergo fatigue failure as a result of crack growth and , as in the case of tear, this can occur at tensile deformations well below the breaking strain.

Fatigue life increases rapidly as the maximum strain imposed is reduced. Atmospheric oxygen can reduce the fatigue limit and increase the rate of crack growth. At strains below the mechanico-oxidative fatigue limit as slow crack growth many occur as a result of ozone attack in unsaturated rubbers. IN strain crystallising rubbers, fatigue life is enhanced in components that do not return to zero strain during cycling.

Compression set : The extent of resultant deformation when rubber is subjected to a distorting load after release of load is known as compression set.

  1. Optimum resistance to compression set is developed as cure continues beyond the      level normally considered adequate to obtain a good general level of properties.
  2. Thiurmas in conventional systems give lower compression set than do thiazoles and sulphonamides alone.
  3. Partial replacement of sulphonamide with thiuram gives compression set resistance approaching that of thiuram used alone. These systems give good compromise between cost and technical performance.
  4. Semi EV system are superior to conventional system.


Tension Set : The tensile analogue of compression set is termed tension set and is defined a residual tensile strain in a rubber after it has been stretched either to a given tensile strain and released.

Resistance to liquids : By proper selection of the rubber type and other compounding ingredients, products can be designed for satisfactory use with wide  range of liquids. Contact with an aggressive liquid can have two effects on rubber. The more obvious is change of dimension due to swelling which may be positive because of absorption of liquid or negative because of extraction of soluble compounding ingredients, e.g. Ester plasticizers by fuels. Swelling is diffusion controlled process. The rate of penetration depends more on the viscosity of the fluid rather than its exact chemical nature.

Ageing resistance : It is known that many factors such as oxygen, ozone, sunlight, metal irons, heat and mechanical conditions may markedly contribute to the deterioration of rubber with the passage  of time. Although complete prevention of degradation is impossible inhibitions can be done by use of antioxidants to minimise oxidation and carbon black to reduce sunlight effects.

Heat resistance : In general, resistance to high temperature is a function of polymer structure and Crosslinking systems.

Low temperature resistance : As the temperature falls there is an increase in stiffness the rubber passing through an intermediate transition  state until it becomes brittle solid  (glass hardening). The use of plasticizer may improve the low temperature flexibility. An additional factor in low temperature behaviour is crystallisation which may occur with certain rubbers particularly with NR and CR.

In Part 2 of this article, you will read more deeply into PRINCIPLES OF MIXING.

Dr. Chakravarty can be reached on

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Practical Solutions On Equipment Simplified – A Know Your Supplier Special

At Rubber Machinery World, we understand your information requirements. Our effort on this portal to share authentic information to help you source your machinery wisely remains incomplete without notes on equipment suppliers from whom you source your rubber and tire equipment.

Hence, ‘Know Your Supplierseries is one of our advertorial initiatives to bring to you information on the machinery supplier ecosystem – Manufacturers, OEM Suppliers, Machine Rebuilders, Used and Pre-Owned Equipment Buyers & Suppliers, and Agents.

In Know Your Supplier editions, we cover an equipment supplier’s Competency, Capacity, Commitment, Culture, Communication, Market Presence, Technology, Solutions, amongst other details that you seek; so you know these organizations better and reach them quicker.

In this post, I introduce you to an equipment supplier based in India but wired globally. Read on to know why.

Pracsol Chemicals & Machinery is into trading of Machinery, Raw Materials and Chemicals since 2007 and is growing in reputation in machinery business. We understand from our conversation with Harish Nene, Chief Executive, that in the last 4 years they have secured landmark orders for Used Machinery from Indian Rubber and Tyre industry.

Pracsol is now fast building on this rising confidence and customer trust to extend practical equipment solutions to the industry in new machinery as well.

Flip through this Special Edition using the link –

In this conversation, Harish Nene outlines on a wide array of his business aspects right from the genesis of his company name to his experiences in rubber and tyre industry, partnership with JM Machinery USA, recent successes and new products on the anvil. Harish also informs us the unique service proposition Pracsol offers to their customers, their competence and comprehensive range of machinery offered to buyers.

I reproduce for you a few snapshots of our conversation here. (For full story, please do read and download here, this special edition of Know Your Supplier)

  • Pracsol is a strange name. What is the story behind this name?

Pracsol is derived from the words ‘Practical Solutions’. Through my experience of last 20 years in International Business, I would state that solution for a problem is possible if looked at it practically not by just following procedures.

Pracsol Logo

  • Having started in 2007 how has been your experience so far in this industry?

Business Ethics, Honesty, Transparency and Hard work is important. Customers who do business with me recognize that they can expect these from me and have helped me succeed in the rubber and tyre industry. I also have good support from my principal company. This makes things simple and gives me time to focus on delivering value to customers. From my last 7 years experience, I would opine that doing business with Private Companies is easier than doing business with Public Limited Companies.

  • Purchasing machinery is a major investment for most buyers and they would need technical inputs and customization. What level of pre-sales support do you offer?

We provide all the important technical details about the machinery with photographs. Through JM Machinery, we can aid in design and engineering from concept thru completion of the desired machine. If the customer insists on Physical Verification Report then physical verification is carried out by our principals’ engineers and a report is provided. The client has the liberty to visit for physical verification if the machines are available at our warehouse in USA.

  • Are you launching any new products?

We are targeting the rubber industry in Europe & USA to export our range of new machinery from India. We have recently bagged an order to design, manufacture and supply a NEW BATCH OFF for Europe. This is expected to be despatched by end of September 2015.


For full conversation and other details of Pracsol, access this special edition of Know Your Supplier in PDF here.

Meanwhile, here is a quick overview of industries covered by Pracsol and Harish Nene’s contacts if you would like to reach him quickly.


Know Your Supplier is an advertorial initiative of Rubber Machinery World and all information are as provided by the supplier. If you desire to know more, kindly reach out on the contact details provided or write to me stating the additional details you seek on this supplier.

And if you would like your organization to be promoted on Rubber Machinery World, please see the opportunities on Partner Me or Contact Me at for your customized offering.


The Ultimate Guide to Asset Management

If you had read my earlier post “A New Hope: Top 6 Things I Learnt At NRC 2015 Mumbai“, then you would have also read my learning from Naushad Shikalgar of J.N.Engineering – ‘Proactive Machinery Maintenance is not an expense and is an investment that has long-term benefits’.

Maintenance is important in any organization. Without proper maintenance, assets deteriorate over time reducing the quality of your output produced. It can also impact the safety of your asset or your people who operate it.

Traditionally, maintenance has been viewed as a cost center in an organization because it costs you money to hire maintenance technicians and purchase the spare parts to keep your systems running smoothly. Too often, senior executives ignore the value-add that maintenance can bring to your organization. These include:

  • A reduction in reactive maintenance costs
  • Reducing costs to restart production after a breakdown
  • Limiting production scrap
  • Costs of downtime such as missed orders and lost revenue
  • Customer perception/satisfaction
  • Improved quality of products
  • Reduced environmental impact


By definition, Asset management is a systematic process of deploying, operating, maintaining, upgrading, and disposing of assets cost-effectively.

During his talk, Naushad spoke extensively on Asset Management Strategy-Plan-Execution including the various approaches to maintenance that I found interesting and hope you too would like it when you read. Hence, I have reproduced the 34 slides (click on the picture below) here that effectively forms a comprehensive guide on asset management.

Asset Management

Click on Image

Summarizing, asset management focuses on assuring your people, parts and processes are optimized to improve asset performance. Reducing inventory, maintenance costs and the number of downtime events raises your productivity, while simultaneously driving financial performance and predictability. It also helps your employees with the right tools to make good decisions about driving your plant performance.

Do you agree? How do you look at Asset Management?

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Adopt Higher Levels of Mechanization To Improve Quality And Reduce Cost – T.K.Mukherjee

The Indian entrepreneurs must accept that only by adopting a higher degree of mechanization they would be able to improve the quality and reduce cost, says T.K.Mukherjee, CEO Mentor & Strategist and Past President of AIRIA in an exclusive interview with Rubber Machinery World. He further adds that Indian Rubber industry could grow at 7 per cent CAGR during the next 5 years to touch USD 19 billion with maximum demand from automotive sector.

Mukherjee, a post-graduate in science and an MDP alumnus of IIM Calcutta, served for over 18 years as the CEO/MD of Phoenix Yule (erstwhile Andrew Yule and now Phoenix Conveyor Belts India Pvt Ltd). A motivational leader who strongly believes in hard work, smart networking and team development, Mukherjee taught me two things 1) there is no end to enrich one’s job knowledge 2) Always recognize that ‘Customer is the Master’.

Currently a mentor to CEOs and strategist, he has been rooted to his belief that Knowledge is Power and Power is Leadership.

His interview here in this edition of “Know A Rubber Leader” series brings in a leadership perspective of a experienced manager who has, worked with rubber machinery early in his career and, used his knowledge to transform a sick PSU (Public Sector Unit) into a dynamic and vibrant MNC.

Know A Rubber Leader

Here’s is Mukherjee’s complete interview reproduced for you.

  1. Hello Mr. Mukherjee. First of all thank you for accepting an interview with Rubber Machinery World and sharing your thoughts. For over 4 years, that we have been interacting, I have seen you transitioning within different leadership and mentoring roles with inspiration and ease. I have been in awe of your energy level and dynamism. So let me start with a personal question – what drives you?

 The various driving forces which act on me are generally situational. However, the biggest forces are:

  • I still believe that my best is yet to come
  • I always feel that as an Indian why can’t we be the best
  • There must be a continuous transaction with the society under which I operate

However, strong driving forces do not always bring success. I grew up predominantly during pre-91 era. We had limited resources and hence ability to take up challenges was less. With the opening up of the economy, various opportunities started knocking at our doors and thus we progressed faster. Failures still remained as a great teacher in my life. One point is very relevant – the definition of success changes from generation to generation. We must appreciate that.

  1. Tell me about a leadership position that you enjoyed the most? Why?

I had the good luck to work as a CEO/MD for over 18 long years. During this period the most enjoyable and rewarding experience was to transform a sick PSU to a vibrant and profitable MNC. This process provided me a great learning – how to change the mind-set of the people. One very challenging issue was to convince the leftist trade unionists about the fruits of privatization! There were cultural issues, communication issues – all providing challenges.

  1. Indian rubber industry has a turnover of around USD 14 Bn with exports touching USD 2.67 Bn. Where do you see this in next 5 years and which sub-sector will have the most significant growth?

I believe that Indian Rubber industry could grow @7% CAGR during the next 5 years, thereby USD 14 Bn may touch 19 Bn. Similarly as far as Indian exports of rubber products are concerned it may touch 4 Bn, thanks to some recent govt. initiatives. The demand growth could be maximum in automotive sector – tyre and non-tyre rubber products. However, due to shift of energy sources from conventional to non-conventional, the rubber products sector depending on usage of fossil fuel may not grow at the same rate.

  1. Apart from serving the interests of Indian Rubber Industry, you have also been a successful business leader of a leading MNC business brand in conveyor belt industry. Since you started, what have been the major changes in your business ecosystem? And how have you repositioned yourself against the challenges to sustain your company’s leadership position in the conveyor belt industry?

My 18 years’ experience in conveyor belt industry (till Sept.’13) is a mixed one. The growth was achieved primarily in correctly understanding the intrinsic needs of the customers early. Once that was mapped, then we could mobilise all the available resources at a fast pace in meeting them. The manufacturing process was re-designed to make it customer centric. And finally improving the core competence of the team members through series of HR initiatives in order to continuously accept and win challenges. The company’s leadership position was achieved by networking with all the stakeholders as per the business need.

Know A Rubber Leader - T.K.Mukherjee

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  1. What kind of technological improvisations had you bought in to your business? Was this sufficient?

By being part of a MNC, we always had the opportunity to obtain continuous exposure of a world-class technology, whereby the customers always found the winning products from the company. Be it application issues or environmental issues or capex issues – we could always provide a workable solution. We always believed that improvement was a continuous process; hence the question of ‘sufficiency’ did not arise.

  1. Today you also consult clients in rubber industry. Is the machinery industry in India currently meeting your client’s technology requirement? Do they import machinery? If yes, how do you feel this gap in technology be bridged over next 5 years?

The Indian Rubber Machine manufacturing industry need to grow in terms of scale, cost competitiveness and quality. Chinese machines with comparable quality are still cheaper. The ultimate customers have more reliance on American/European/Japanese machines, equipment and process, though these are expensive. We definitely need to bridge this gap. Perhaps many companies are trying to manufacture all the major machines as a package deal. Instead of that, we need to focus on mixing, calendaring/extruding, curing press etc. Technology tie-up/equity partnership with American/Japanese companies may help Indian companies to achieve world class standard during the next 5 years’ time. In this direction the ‘Make in India’ initiative, Mumbai-Delhi Economic corridor could provide an excellent opportunity.

  1. I know you have traveled widely and visited many rubber goods manufacturing plants. What is the level of awareness about developments in Rubber Machinery and production technology today in India? Is it different globally?

Now a days the Indian entrepreneurs are travelling outside India quite a bit. They have a fair amount of knowledge of what is globally available. But they are not equally informative of what is possible within the country. It could be a good idea that Indian Rubber Machinery companies may jointly undertake to showcase to Indian entrepreneurs their capabilities by organizing pan India roadshows. This would also help them to understand their customers need.

  1. Rubber sector in India has grown to over 6000 units and is today a highly labour and energy intensive sector. Employing over half a million skilled manpower and many unskilled, what difference do you see the National Rubber Policy making to the stakeholders including the rubber machinery sector?

National Policy on Rubber (NPoR) is an excellent initiative in addressing various issues of the stakeholders- though sometimes these are diametrically opposite. Definitely issues related to Rubber Machinery industry must also be highlighted as they are also a stakeholder.

Handling skill level of a labor intensive industry like Rubber is a challenge. However, under the NSDC umbrella we are quite active in sectoral skill development initiatives under RSDC. This would help sustaining the growth momentum as mentioned earlier.

  1. Currently, you play a very key role as a strategic mentor to CEO’s and also involved in financial sector. SME’s today starve due to lack of “timely” funds and this has been the case in the past too. No change. Is this situation improving? Is there something that SME entrepreneurs can proactively work on to attract funding?

I agree that finding fund for growth of SME sector continues to be a problem. Banks have their issues like – mounting NPAs, high cost of operation etc. Similarly SME sector has their own problem of organizing collaterals and proportionate equity contribution. Various schemes of govt. are also not known sufficiently to the entrepreneurs. In this regard Industry associations may take a leading role in facilitating the process. The financial conditions of many state governments are weak and uncertain- as a result they are able to meet their own commitments. Actually a sustained work is necessary during the next 5 years in order to improve the lot.

The Indian rubber industry is dominated by SME sector, hence such improvements can only ensure growth of this sector.

  1. Great! And one last question, what would be your advice on machinery to your clients and entrepreneurial business leaders in rubber industry?

The Indian entrepreneurs must accept that only by adopting a higher degree of mechanization they would be able to improve the quality and reduce cost. However, they are somewhat uncertain about the skill level of their own people- Blue and white collar. There has to be an engagement program involving all the work force. There has to be a low cost mechanization program. If one looks at some of the successful SME rubber companies, this point would be well established


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Let me know your thoughts.

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Select A Flexible And Transparent Supplier – Arul Shanmugavelu

Select a supplier who is flexible and transparent, says Arul Shanmugavelu, Chief Executive of L&T Kobelco Machinery Private Limited, in an exclusive interview with Rubber Machinery World. He further adds that in the project situations there are always changes that would crop up. Hence you need suppliers who are ready to listen to the tiny requirements of the customer and be ready to meet the same with open and transparent manner.

Well, Arul knows best being associated with the tire industry for over two decades now.

Soft-spoken and astute, Arul is a credible business leader amongst tire machinery manufacturers and I am happy to present before you his interview in this edition of “Know A Rubber Leader” series.

Know A Rubber Leader

In this crisp interview, you will find him share his thoughts on the challenges and customer frustrations and some plain advice that could lead to a win-win situation between rubber machinery manufacturers and users.

Here’s is Arul’s complete interview reproduced for you.

  1. Hello Arul. First of all thank you for accepting an interview with Rubber Machinery World and sharing your thoughts. You have been head of marketing at L&T and now head of L&T Kobelco, which is a JV. What has changed for you? How has your leadership style evolved over the years?

I am associated with the tire Industry for over 2 decades. As you mentioned, I was Head of Marketing in L&T Rubber Processing Machinery unit, before moving over to L&T Kobelco as the Chief Executive. In short almost, everything has changed for me, except the customer segment. Since I am associated with them for many years, I am able to understand them very fast and most of them know me well. This gives me and also the customer a comfort feeling. Now that, I have a full responsibility of the business, I have the opportunity to fulfill the requirement of the customer faster and better, this I enjoy a lot, as I always want to be close to the customers.

  1. What’s a challenge you spend a lot of time thinking about these days?

One of the challenges that we face is the varying choice of components by the buyers. Each one has their own choice of make (or brand) when deciding bought-out components, be it, RTDs or PLCs, switch gear items, etc. The varying choice of bought-out parts puts limitation on the Machinery manufacturers in terms their flexibility of price and delivery. If the users leave the choice of makes of the elements of the machine to the OEMs, machinery manufacturers will be in a position to provide better returns to end customers in terms of price, delivery and service. Any way the overall guarantee of the machine is given by the rubber machinery manufacturers and hence I feel the choice and responsibility should be left to the manufacturer.

  1. What is the biggest frustration today for buyers of rubber and tire machinery? How are L&T Kobelco/Kobelco Products and Services addressing this?

Tire making is a complex process and each of the tire companies’ are continuously improving their product through various product design and process improvements. Each time a green field project is conceived, the project engineers are required to validate all their assumptions of the previous project, as they are required to show improvements over the previous execution, in terms of better machines, better productivity, shorter project lead time, etc. This puts lot of pressure on the Project team.

We have often seen that the Project engineers are never able to repeat their specification of equipment between 2 consecutive green field projects, even if the projects are phased by only a years’ time.

Moreover due to the shorter lead-times on the project, they are required to concurrently do machine ordering, layout finalization, civil construction, etc. Sometimes this leads to changes during execution of the project, which becomes tough and expensive.

Know A Rubber Leader - Arul

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  1. How does L&T Kobelco propose to change the rubber and tire industry in the years to come?

Currently L&T Kobelco’s focus is on the BB270, BB310, BB370 & BB430 Mixers and TSR330 & TSR450 Twin Screw Extruders. This product range covers almost the complete requirement of Tire Industry.  In this segment, where L&T Kobelco operates, the customers are generally used to one manufacturer and have not experienced any other technology.  The resistance to change comes out of the fact that the customers need to undergo the learning curve while using our technology to realize its benefit. Here, we assist our customers with the support of the process expert to stabilize the mixing process and also offer the facility of Trial mixing at Kobelco’s lab in Japan, if required.

  1. Is the rubber machinery industry leading or lagging behind the customer expectations when it comes to customer’s rubber processing expectations?

I think the Tire Machinery Industry is leading the customer expectations in several segments viz. Mixers, TBMs, automation, etc. We have seen manufacturers from these segments coming with new products which push the quality and the productivity of the customers.

  1. Can “superior-technology” and “low-cost” ever go hand-in-hand in rubber and tire machinery/equipment?

Certainly superior technology and low(est) cost cannot go together. To manufacture a quality product, we need to have a certain infrastructure i.e. good machines, trained manpower, good sub-suppliers, and good quality control. In addition for a product to sustain in the market there needs to be investment on R&D.  All of these cost money. At the same time, if we are able to couple appropriate strengths of different countries, we can come out with best value for money.

India with manufacturing expertise and availability of skilled manpower offers a best platform for making machine at competitive price. When this is coupled with the technology of Kobelco, Japan, I feel this is winning combination.

  1. Sustainability, Environment and Innovation are the key global themes today. How is Kobelco incorporating this in your business that has a positive impact to your customers?

Who can ignore this? No one.  Kobelco in Japan is working on these areas of Sustainability, Environment and Innovations. Though I cannot share what is being done in Japan, I can assure Kobelco takes these as very important and works on these relentlessly.

Kobelco Make Mixers

Kobelco Make Mixers

  1. What do you think is the awareness levels of customer on advances in machinery and its availability, superior technology and its adoption here as compared to the west and developed nations? Is there a disparity? How is L&T Kobelco working to expand your market on newer technologies here?

Today the world is a single market. In the Tire machinery market, the number of customers and number of machinery manufacturers are small. With the current information technology, I do not think any customer whether he is in India or Europe is lacking any information. In some occasions, I have seen that the customers in India are more knowledgeable in terms of availability of machines than some of the customers in the developed world. This may come out of the fact that they strive hard to beat the competition with the products made by them in India, compared to the products made by the developed countries.

  1. What do you envision for L&T-Kobelco in the next 10 years?

I feel that L&T Kobelco would have emerged as a major Mixer and allied machinery manufacturer from India catering to both Indian and export markets. L&T Kobelco will play a major role in the overall strategy of Kobelco as a leader in Mixer and allied machinery in the world.

  1. Great! And one last question, what would you advice on machinery selection to buyers and users of rubber and tire equipment?

My input to the buyers regarding machinery selection would be to evaluate the features that are required by you for your processes. Please do not beef up the product with an intention of having all the features whether required or not. Because every penny counts in the project stage. Whatever money you put in, requires a return to be paid to the owners. We have seen customers who use the bare minimum features for their machines and keep their investment on machine to the minimum and yet be a leading player in the tire business.

Hence making of the functional specification is the most important. Please leave the detailing of the machine to the machinery manufacturers and demand the performance parameters. In some cases the project team starts to specify the design parameters of the machine, which is best left the Machine manufacturer.

Select a supplier who is flexible and transparent. In the project situations there are always changes that would crop up. Hence you need suppliers who are ready to listen to the tiny requirements of the customer and be ready to meet the same with open and transparent manner.


Download the full interview in PDF here.

That’s some profound practical approach from Arul Shanmugavelu, I think. What do you think?

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